November 2. It’s 21:30 or thereabouts; and from outside I can here the occasional bang of fireworks. Double happys and tom thumbs we called ‘em. New Zealand is attempting to manage the annual carnage of life, limb, property, pets, wildlife, real and forestry estate by only allowing fireworks to be sold four days before the official November 5 – Guy Fawkes day. I genuinely have no idea why we celebrate some pommie terrorist – perhaps it’s been because of the shocking absence (until recently) of our own home grown exemplars.
We never had fireworks as a kid. Instead (remember this is back in a time before and shortly after the introduction of tv – AND it was in glorious black and white) Mum would buy us a pineapple and a coconut. Her theory – her policy, damn it, the LAW was that Dad worked too hard to earn the money to put a roof over our heads and food on the table and there as NO WAY she was about to take money and set fire to it. At least with the treat of exotic fruit we would get four layers of pleasure from it. First – delicious and nutritious. Second – sensible use of money; and gratitude and respect for Dad’s sweat. How rare that is. Third – exotic. Exotic. Exotic. There we were, stuck in the boondocks and here was a taste of something from far away. I think we thought the fruit came from “The Islands” – I have no precise location, but it was then, and still is, an idea I am in love with every single day. “The Islands” – I so want to be there, even if they only exist in myth. Fourth – well, instead of having fireworks we got to go to school with a wedge of pineapple and a chunk of coconut, and watch our school chums writhe with envy. Oh, simple pleasures are the best ones.